Updated crosswalks cause confusion in Santa Maria

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways June 30, 2016 15:27

Updated crosswalks cause confusion in Santa Maria

Some new crosswalks in Santa Maria are confusing many of the people they’re intended to help.

The bright yellow boxes at the intersection of Broadway and Cook were put in just two weeks ago. Some people KSBY spoke with say they’re easier to see than to operate.

Santa Maria’s new crosswalks are part of a new, $1.3 million project.

“There are different intersections, they are called “accelerated accessible pedestrian signals,” and they are part of pedestrian safety and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and their purpose is for better guidance,” said Suzanna Cruz, Caltrans District 5 Public Information Officer.

The group of signals at Broadway and Cook cost about $16,000.

“It’s more for accommodating our current needs. This is for anyone, it is ADA compliant, it’s for children, elderly, for the different pedestrians with different needs. It will be a lot better,” said Cruz.

Some pedestrians say the new devices are not only slowing down their travel times, they are confusing, too.

Santa Maria resident, Rene Hechabarria said, “There’s no button. There is a finger pointing to the button, this is hard, and there is no button anywhere, so it must be some kind of joke.”

Some are frustrated by the lack of an actual button to press. With these new signals, pedestrians need to place their hand down on a sensor.

“Well, there is nothing to press. That’s the problem. It says “push button for walk” and there is no button. It’s just a lot of contraptions screwed in,” said Christopher Browne, a Santa Maria resident.

The signals are designed for people with a number of disabilities, including visually and hearing impaired pedestrians.

When they’re fully operational, the new features will include a Vibrotactile “walk sign on” tone, vibrations once the sensor is pressed on, and a beeping countdown.

“Well I think the public may take a little bit of time like anything to get used to them,” said Cruz. “But I think they are going to be a lot more appreciative and a lot more effective to the pedestrians depending on their needs.”

The signal modules and poles are currently pending inspection. More of these crosswalks will be installed in Santa Maria in six different locations, which will all intersect with Highway 135.

Caltrans expects to be done with the new installments this winter. They will be connected at various intersections in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties.

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways June 30, 2016 15:27